Sep 7, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT
The International Olympic Committee will make the second of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.
Nearly 100 IOC members will choose one of three sports — baseball/softball, squash and wrestling — for inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics from 11-11:45 a.m. Eastern time. For more on what happens Sunday, click here.
OlympicTalk will look at each sport’s pitch. Here is a rundown of baseball-softball:
Jessica Mendoza played softball during the 2012 Olympics.
Not with the U.S. national team. No, London marked the first Games since 1992 to not include softball. Rather, the 2004 and 2008 Olympian took to the diamond last summer with the USSSA Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Akron, Ohio, and Kannapolis, N.C.
“All my Olympic teammates, we were all on the same field,” Mendoza, who gave birth to a baby boy, Caden, two weeks ago, said in a phone interview this week. “It was this weird feeling, being so far away from it.”
Mendoza said she spent days last summer watching the Olympics on TV. At night, she had league games to play. It brought to mind her Olympic experiences in Athens and Beijing.
“I felt, honestly, like crying,” she said. “We should be there. Instead of here in Florida, we should be there in London.”
Baseball and softball were cut from the Olympic program in an agonizing decision eight years ago. A total of 105 IOC members were eligible to vote “yay” or “nay” on all Olympic sports. A majority was needed to remain in the Games.
Baseball went down 54-50. Softball was 52-52. One member abstained from each vote. Had that member voted for softball, it would still be in the Olympics. Had anybody switched in favor of softball, it would still be in the Olympics.
Baseball and softball are now baseball-softball, one combined bid competing against squash and wrestling for one opening in the Olympic program for 2020 and 2024. Wrestling is considered the favorite. The Associated Press described baseball-softball’s chances as, “likely headed for another strikeout.”
“It’s so hard because a lot of the people voting are the same people who voted in 2005,” Mendoza said. “I’ve learned since then to understand the IOC a little bit more and learn that it’s very hard to figure out what they’re thinking.”
Tommy Lasorda doesn’t understand, either. Lasorda, 85, the retired Hall of Fame Dodgers manager, is probably the man most associated with U.S. Olympic baseball. He guided the 2000 Olympic club to gold, a group of minor leaguers who upset favored Cuba to cap an unlikely run. A “Miracle”-like documentary was in the works a few years ago.
“They made a big, big mistake,” voting baseball out, Lasorda said in a phone interview. “They’ve got sports that aren’t even sports in the Olympics.”
Together, baseball and softball are stronger than they were individually. They’re pushing for more compact Olympic tournaments, six days each, and at the same venue, saving money.
Baseball-softball’s chances will rise if Tokyo is elected as the 2020 host one day before the sport vote. Japan won the last Olympic softball tournament in 2008 and the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. It would be able to fill seats better than other candidates Istanbul or Madrid.
Issues that hurt each sport in the past remain. Softball is certainly more global than it was in its Olympic debut in 1996, but it’s still lacking support and popularity in Europe.
Baseball is beset by its doping problems and that the Olympics are not the ultimate goal for the sport. Major League Baseball players compete in the World Baseball Classic, but, so far, MLB has said it’s unwilling to stop its season to free players for the Olympics, like the NHL does.
“Those guys have contracts to worry about,” retired first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who hit a walk-off home run in the 2000 Olympic semifinals, said in a phone interview. “The timing’s never going to be right for them. This was a stepping stone for us (minor leaguers in 2000). Some of us, (the Olympics) was our big leagues.”
Olympic baseball proponents, such as Fidel Castro‘s son, argue that there’s plenty of time for negotiations with MLB on seeking a solution for the world’s best players to go to the Games.
American Don Porter is the president of the International Softball Federation and a co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. He said he was packing to bring to Buenos Aires letters he’s received from girls who want to play Olympic softball.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls and boys out there who want to get their Olympic dreams back,” he told the AP.
Apr 24, 2014, 12:42 PM EDT
2012 Olympic alternate announces college plans.
Apr 24, 2014, 9:11 AM EDT
Boston Marathon winner met Derek Jeter, David Ortiz.
Apr 23, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT
Lochte said he almost didn’t come back to swimming after knee injury.
Apr 23, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT
Phelps says he gained 30 pounds in retirement but has shed most of it in training.
Apr 23, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
Phelps’ contract with Speedo ran out at the end of 2013 after a 12-year run.
Apr 23, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Michael Andrew, 15, turned pro last year and has been drawing comparisons to Michael Phelps.
Apr 23, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
When to watch Michael Phelps’ return to competition.
Apr 22, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
How Keflezighi spent the morning after his upset victory.
Apr 22, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Americans’ tactic played small role in Keflezighi’s victory.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT
Sochi figure skating analysts will be fashion experts at Churchill Downs.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT
Ohno follows NFL wide receiver, celebrity chef in ambitious attempt.
Apr 22, 2014, 8:21 AM EDT
Johan Bruyneel guided Lance Armstrong’s teams for all seven stripped Tour de France wins.
Apr 21, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT
“I needed it for healing,” one survivor said.
Apr 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
First U.S. man to win Boston Marathon since 1983.
Apr 21, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
Meb Keflezighi made history on an emotional day at the 2014 Boston Marathon by becoming the first American man to win the race since 1983. Watch highlights of the 38-year-old Keflezighi’s victory here, courtesy of Universal Sports: Keflezighi reacts to his historic win and the emotion of winning one year after the Boston Marathon bombing,…
Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT
Shalane Flanagan led early but was dropped around 21 miles.
Apr 21, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Paralympic champion prevails one month after winning silver in Sochi.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
Double the police presence from last year.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT
Former linebacker ran in 2012 and saw the first bomb from a hotel last year.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:07 AM EDT
Race starts by honoring those lost and those who saved at last year’s race.
- Michael Phelps ready to start ‘journey’ in comeback meet 0
- Another Michael set to make splash at Mesa Grand Prix 0
- Michael Phelps’ comeback at Mesa Grand Prix competition, broadcast schedules 0
- Ryan Hall, other U.S. runners wouldn’t help East Africans catch Meb Keflezighi 0
- Emotions flow for runners, spectators at Boston Marathon 0
- Meb Keflezighi stuns to win Boston Marathon (video) 4
- Rita Jeptoo repeats as Boston Marathon winner in course record 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (55)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (46)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (38)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)